Southern Right Whales

A Guide to Whale Watching in Victoria

Seeing a whale or encountering one in the wild is an incredible experience. These majestic creatures roam the oceans, travelling vast distances to find the perfect places for feeding, breeding and calving. Whales are very prominent in the Southern Ocean around Australia, and Victoria is one of the best whale-spotting locations in the world.

Whale Watching, Victoria

Nestled along the southern coast of Australia, Victoria’s strategic location provides a unique opportunity to witness the annual migration of various whale species, including Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales and the occasional awe-inspiring sighting of Blue Whales.

The region’s diverse marine ecosystem, coupled with the breathtaking coastal landscapes, make whale-watching in Victoria an amazing experience. 

Best Time to Go Whale Watching in Victoria

To maximise your chances of encountering these marine giants, planning a whale-watching excursion is key. The peak whale-watching season in Victoria is typically during the Southern Hemisphere winter and early spring which spans from June to September. This period aligns with the annual migration of whales along the Australian coast, as they journey to warmer northern waters for breeding and calving.

The clear skies and calmer seas of winter enhance the overall whale-watching experience, providing ideal conditions for observing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Top Places to Whale Watching in Victoria

There are several places in Victoria from where to see whales, either via whale watching cruises or even spotting these majestic creatures from the shore. 

Phillip Island

Phillip Island, situated a mere 140 kilometres south of Melbourne, is a prominent winter whale-watching hub. Beyond its famous penguins, the island’s coastal waters become a playground for marine giants like Southern Right Whales and Humpbacks.

Photo courtesy of Wildlife Coast Cruises.

Join this whale-watching tour from that cruises around Phillip Island in search of whales while you enjoy a cup of tea. It really gives you one of your best chances of seeing whales in the wild in all of Victoria. Along with Humpback and Southern Right Whales, keep your eye out for playful dolphins, curious seals and a variety of birdlife including the Wandering Albatross. 

Warrnambool

Located on the end of the Great Ocean Road and known for its whale nursery, Warrnambool is the starting point of the so-called ‘whale corridor’ on the Great Ocean Road’s Winter Whale Trail. It is a prime spot for observing Southern Right Whales close to shore, especially from the Logan Beach whale-watching platform. Southern Right Whales migrate to this area for breeding and calving during these months, providing a unique spectacle for visitors.

Read Next: Your Guide to Warrnambool Whale Watching

Port Fairy

The charming coastal town of Port Fairy near the western tip of Victoria is a prominent feature on the Winter Whale Trail, with its coastal waters attracting whales during their migration. The town’s strategic position provides an excellent vantage point for observing Southern Right Whales and other species, particularly from the Surf Lifesaving Club on East Beach.

Wilsons Promontory

The coastline of this national park on mainland Australia’s southernmost point is a perfect whale spotting site. Most sightings around the Wilsons Promontory area are of Humpback Whales, but Southern Right Whales are also spotted from time to time. 

Photo courtesy of Wildlife Coast Cruises.

There is a really great whale spotting cruise there that takes you along the Wilsons Prom coastline in search of whales while enjoying a light lunch. See the amazing coastal formations and remote beaches of Rabbit Island, Refuge Cove and Sealers Cove. Spot Southern Right and Humpback Whales as well as shy albatrosses, Australian fur seals, and dolphins, among many others. 

Cape Otway

Cape Otway Lightstation is an excellent place to see migrating whales, with an estimated 25 species of whales passing by every winter during the annual whale migraction, including Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales and Orcas. 

Queenscliff Harbour

This natural harbour just east of Geelong at the entrance of Port Phillip Bay, is surrounded by water on almost all sides. This makes Queenscliff Harbour a great whale-watching location and visitors can spot Humpback and Southern Right Whales, as well as other marine life like dolphins and fur seals.

Photo courtesy of Sea All Dolphin Swims.

One of the best ways to spot these magnificent marine creatures is on a wildlife sightseeing tour around Port Phillip Bay. Hop on a historical wooden vessel and meet some of the friendly locals. Watch the playful Australian Fur seals, spot pods of local Burrunan dolphins cruising the bay, and see the amazing birdlife and marine life around Pope’s Eye. In the winter, you might even spot a Humpback Whale or two.

What Kinds of Whales Can You See?

Several types of whales can be spotted in the waters around Victoria.

Humpback Whales

Famous for their long migrations and acrobatic displays, Humpback Whales are frequent visitors to the waters around Victoria. The sight of these colossal creatures breaching and slapping their tails on the water’s surface is a highlight of any whale-watching excursion.

Humpback Whales show off their agility and playfulness, captivating onlookers with their impressive displays.

Southern Right Whales

Southern Right Whales are a common sight off the coast of Victoria during the migration season. Recognised by their large, dark bodies and lack of a dorsal fin, these giants are known for their gentle nature and often approach vessels, allowing for a close and intimate encounter with whale watchers. The distinctive callosities on their heads make Southern Right Whales easily identifiable.

Blue Whales

As the largest animals on Earth, Blue Whales command attention with their immense size and striking blue-grey colouration. While less common, spotting a blue whale in its natural habitat is an unforgettable experience, and lucky whale watchers may witness the sheer size and power of these magnificent marine mammals.

How to Go Whale Watching

There are two main options for spotting whales along the coast of Victoria, whale-watching cruises or views from shore.

Whale Cruises

One of the best options for whale sightings is on a whale-watching cruise. Several tour operators in coastal towns offer guided whale-watching tours. These cruises provide a unique opportunity to get up close to the whales and witness their behaviour in their natural habitat.

Knowledgeable guides on board enhance the experience by sharing insights into the whales’ behaviours and migration patterns. Select a reputable operator that prioritizes responsible wildlife viewing for an unforgettable marine adventure.

Land-Based Viewing

Enjoy the spectacle of whale watching from the comfort of solid ground at various vantage points along the Victorian coastline. Logan’s Beach in Warrnambool, cliffside viewpoints in Lorne, and other strategic locations offer excellent land-based opportunities for whale sighting. Bring binoculars for a closer look, and be patient as you scan the horizon for the distinctive blows or spouts as they come up for air. 

Encountering a whale up close, or even just seeing them glide and play in the water is an unforgettable experience and only a handful of places offer the opportunity to witness these giants of the ocean. One of the best places for whale watching is in Victoria, Australia.